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#377219 - 03/09/12 09:36 PM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: Wolfgang]
StuartK Offline
Member

Registered: 11/09/01
Posts: 7394
Loc: Falls Church, VA
Everyone should remember that the ancient agricultural cycle of the Mediterranean basin was very different from that on the other side of the Alps. There were no cows, there were no sheep or pigs or much of anything during the winter months, because all but a handful to be kept alive for breeding purposes were slaughtered in autumn, there not being enough fodder to keep large herds alive through winter. Most of the meat was eaten immediately, some of it was smoked or salted. The staple lenten food in the north was cheese and fish, much of it smoked. Portuguese, Basque, Breton and British fishermen earned their livelihood providing smelt and cod for the Catholic population of Northwestern Europe.

Note also that in the Mediterranean world, few people drank milk, because of a common genetic mutation that conveys lactose intolerance. Cheese was eaten in small amounts (cheese being half-digested already, it's easier on the GI tract). Butter was used not at all--which is why the injunction against olive oil is such a hardship. Meat was eaten very seldom except by the wealthy. Fish was considered a luxury, too, in the Mediterranean (I'm not sure why), but shellfish was peasant food, which no self-respecting Roman or Greek would touch.


Edited by StuartK (03/09/12 09:37 PM)

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#377224 - 03/10/12 12:39 AM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: theophan]
Jaya Offline
Member

Registered: 10/19/09
Posts: 671
Loc: Ohio
Originally Posted By: theophan
Not only farmers, but even people who lived within the limits of small rural towns did this subsistence farming on their properties. My great grandparents and grandparents each maintained a second lot either adjacent or very close to their residence so that every inch was gardened and every bit was preserved for theri over-the-winter living. They scoured the wooded areas for blueberies, blackberries, elderberries; made their own wine, sauerkraut, ketsup, mustard, and mayonaise; raised chickens, a turkey, and a goose at the end of the property. This only stopped after WW2 when these same towns adopted ordinances forbidding such activity. Eventually everyone planted grass on their lots as times became easier and grocery stores could provide what was needed.

This is exactly the way people lived in Bulgaria when I was there (1996-2005). Every inch of the backyard was covered with vegetables growing, and fruit trees (plums, cherries, apples, pears, peaches, figs), and trellises with all kinds of grapes I'd never seen before, and then a few little outbuildings for chickens, some folks I knew would raise a pig and slaughter it in the fall, or rabbits even. When Gergyovden (St George's Day) came, I knew many people who went to the open animal market and bought a live lamb, which they then brought home and slaughtered. Some of the meat is sometimes hung up in strips to dry. Families still can vegetables, fruits, jams, various relishes and condiments, and yes, even meat. And it's canned in a boiling-water bath, no pressure cooker. Canning is done outside in the yard, often over an open fire. (I remember the first time I was served home-canned sheep meat from a somewhat beat-up looking glass jar. I admit I was a bit nervous about it!) And I used to go out into the fields and forests outside the town with my Bulgarian friends, gathering nettles, dandelion, and wild sorrel in the spring, and chestnuts, thyme, rose hips, and mushrooms in the fall. It was an amazing and wonderful experience. "Lawns" and grass were pretty much unknown when I was first there. Over the years, they began to appear here and there among the "nouveau riche," a very small segment of the society. I loved the earthy beauty and aliveness of the traditional Bulgarian backyard, and found the phenomenon of the modern and sterile-looking American lawn, and yard, very depressing when I came back!

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#377263 - 03/10/12 06:40 PM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: Wolfgang]
Paul B Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/01
Posts: 1730
Loc: PA
To all,

Preserve this knowledge, for the time may come when we also have to go back to this time. Even if it is not economically necessary, it is healthier than storebought and processed food.

It is incredible to me how much food we Americans throw away. I have reprimanded my grandchildren when I see them throw food in the wastebasket. Even an unwanted bread crust can be fed to the dog, or crumbled and scattered outside for the birds.

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#377268 - 03/10/12 07:03 PM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: Paul B]
theophan Offline
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Member

Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 5839
Loc: Hollidaysburg, PA
Paul B:

My mother-in-law, may God rest her soul, used to save every bit of stale bread, bread crusts, etc. and rub them across her grater to make the breading she later used to coat chicken or fish. Never was anything wasted.

Bob

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#377300 - 03/11/12 02:40 AM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: Wolfgang]
StuartK Offline
Member

Registered: 11/09/01
Posts: 7394
Loc: Falls Church, VA
Let's not flog ourselves or view our ancestors through rose-colored glasses. They were just as wasteful as we are, albeit in different ways. Even the Indians--excuse me, "Native Americans" (or "First Settlers" for you Canadians--though the Indians were in fact neither) were incredibly wasteful--driving whole herds of buffalo off of cliffs, then just skinning them and taking the hump and the tongue; or using slash-and-burn agricultural methods along the East Coast, moving on and repeating as often as the soil got depleted (the U.S. is more forested today than it was in 1492). In Meso-America and the American Southwest, various cultures rose and fell, all victims of self-inflicted demographic or environmental catastrophe. As compared to them, we are fairly responsible stewards of the land, not to mention breadbasket of the world.

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#377309 - 03/11/12 05:01 AM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: StuartK]
JDC Offline
Member

Registered: 01/27/11
Posts: 607
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: StuartK
Even the Indians--excuse me, "Native Americans" (or "First Settlers" for you Canadians--though the Indians were in fact neither)


It's "First Peoples" or "First Nations" here. Unless you ask one of them. They tend to say "Indians".

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#377328 - 03/11/12 12:36 PM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: Wolfgang]
StuartK Offline
Member

Registered: 11/09/01
Posts: 7394
Loc: Falls Church, VA
All the ones I know do. And I grew up with an Indian family occupying the upstairs apartment in my parents' row house. They were very proudly Mohawk Indians.

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#377345 - 03/11/12 05:51 PM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: StuartK]
Paul B Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/01
Posts: 1730
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: StuartK
Let's not flog ourselves or view our ancestors through rose-colored glasses. They were just as wasteful as we are, albeit in different ways.


Stuart,
??? How were the peasants of Eastern Europe wasteful? What did they have to waste?

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#377347 - 03/11/12 05:56 PM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: Wolfgang]
StuartK Offline
Member

Registered: 11/09/01
Posts: 7394
Loc: Falls Church, VA
Their agricultural methods were intensely wasteful, which is why even someone like Lysenko was able to boost output per acre with some simple changes to planting methods, crop rotation, and plowing. Consider that, with the richest topsoil in the world, wheat output in Ukraine under the Tsars was lower than that of the American dry land prairie on a per acre basis. Their waste was not of the profligate consumption sort, but of the systematic misuse of resources type resulting from resistance to changes in traditional (inefficient) farming techniques.

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#377355 - 03/11/12 08:43 PM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: Alice]
Penthaetria Offline
Member

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 713
Loc: DC area
Originally Posted By: Alice
one also smells the aroma of the 'psistaries' (barbeques which are common in tavernas and restaurants) going full force with delectable meat dishes (lamb and chicken gyro, lamb, pork and chicken souvlaki, the most delicious meatball/hamburgers called 'biftek' --sort of like the Lebanes kibbe, etc.)--and because of that aroma wafting through the air, *those* were probably the most difficult Lenten periods I ever experienced!
Oh, Alice! Did you have to include this? My nostrils are tingling and I'm salivating just at reading this!

Halfway through ... we're halfway through ...

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#377356 - 03/11/12 09:40 PM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: Penthaetria]
Alice Offline
Moderator
Member

Registered: 01/12/03
Posts: 10832
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Penthaetria
Originally Posted By: Alice
one also smells the aroma of the 'psistaries' (barbeques which are common in tavernas and restaurants) going full force with delectable meat dishes (lamb and chicken gyro, lamb, pork and chicken souvlaki, the most delicious meatball/hamburgers called 'biftek' --sort of like the Lebanes kibbe, etc.)--and because of that aroma wafting through the air, *those* were probably the most difficult Lenten periods I ever experienced!
Oh, Alice! Did you have to include this? My nostrils are tingling and I'm salivating just at reading this!

Halfway through ... we're halfway through ...


Hehehe!! wink

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#377358 - 03/11/12 09:55 PM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: theophan]
Alice Offline
Moderator
Member

Registered: 01/12/03
Posts: 10832
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: theophan
Paul B:

My mother-in-law, may God rest her soul, used to save every bit of stale bread, bread crusts, etc. and rub them across her grater to make the breading she later used to coat chicken or fish. Never was anything wasted.

Bob


Yes, indeed...bread used to be real bread from a bakery (aka in today's lingo: artisan bread) and real bread goes stale very quickly...but thanks to the days of real bread, those great ideas like Bob's mother-in-law's came...real bread crumbs which coated food, and also in Sicily, they toasted them and used them on many pasta dishes with sea food (a great Lenten/vegan idea)...it was called 'the poor man's parmesan cheese'

In Crete, stale rusk bread was toasted and then used as a bottom layer for Greek salad where the fresh tomatoes juices would soak it with their delicious taste.

Stale bread was also soaked and used in meatballs to extend them and make the characteristically light Greek meatball/'kefte'. My Greek grandparents here in the U.S. used to bake stale bread and dip it into their tea. (This I used to think was 'yuck' when I was a child, but it shows how they grew up using bread in innovative ways so as not to waste it)

In France, stale bread was soaked in egg, milk and flavorings to make the dish we have come to love here in the U.S.: French toast!

I don't know what country they come from, but croutons for salads and soups are also from the idea of using stale bread.

In Lebanon, stale pita bread is used in Greek style salads...and the list goes on and on! Today, in our wasteful and bountiful society, we buy these items, or make these recipes, without knowing that they were originally created to NOT be wasteful!

As I am getting older, I have become so much more careful with food than I was when I was younger...never wasting anything, and I have become so respectful of all these 'old world' ideas.


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#377377 - 03/12/12 02:25 AM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: Wolfgang]
Irish Melkite Offline
Global Moderator
Member

Registered: 10/27/03
Posts: 9910
Loc: Massachusetts
Alice,

Excellent observations! And you left me rolling when you pointed out the use of stale pita bread in salads - very true.

But, as well, in case no one has figured it out, the unsold pita bread produced by real Lebanese and Syrian bakeries (which contains no preservatives, unlike that produced for mass consumption and bought off supermarket shelves by folk who would never think to enter an 'ethnic' bakery/market/grocery, and which most resembles corrugated cardboard) is recycled to produce those bags of pita chips, garlic pita chips, cheese pita chips, etc, which sell extraordinarily well - and for good money.

Many years,

Neil
_________________________
"One day all our ethnic traits ... will have disappeared. Time itself is seeing to this. And so we can not think of our communities as ethnic parishes, ... unless we wish to assure the death of our community."

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#377449 - 03/12/12 11:28 PM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: Wolfgang]
Alice Offline
Moderator
Member

Registered: 01/12/03
Posts: 10832
Loc: USA
Dear Neil,

Quote:
..is recycled to produce those bags of pita chips, garlic pita chips, cheese pita chips, etc, which sell extraordinarily well - and for good money.


I never knew that!

Quote:
pita bread produced by real Lebanese and Syrian bakeries (which contains no preservatives, unlike that produced for mass consumption and bought off supermarket shelves by folk who would never think to enter an 'ethnic' bakery/market/grocery, and which most resembles corrugated cardboard)


LOL and SO true! I buy the real mccoy!

When I was a teenager my friend introduced me to delicious Syrian/Lebanese food. (Her mom was of Lebanese background and her father of Syrian background). Her mom used to serve up a big bowl of tabboule as a salad for days when pizza was ordered in for dinner. Her dad once barbequed kibbe, and I was in heaven! We used to go shop for her mother on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn where there was one ethnic store after the other...and there I was also introduced to pita bread with zatar spice baked on...so yummy!







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#377470 - 03/13/12 08:05 AM Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent [Re: Wolfgang]
Irish Melkite Offline
Global Moderator
Member

Registered: 10/27/03
Posts: 9910
Loc: Massachusetts
Alice,

I have to admit that, though I eat it occasionally, zatah is one of the very, very few Middle Eastern foods for which I've never had a real taste. But, as I say, one of the very, very, few.

Many years,

Neil
_________________________
"One day all our ethnic traits ... will have disappeared. Time itself is seeing to this. And so we can not think of our communities as ethnic parishes, ... unless we wish to assure the death of our community."

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